THE EGYPTIAN PROBLEM
with the military and financial resources of Egypt. The Dervishes themselves proceeded forcibly to hasten the evacuation, but not until England, after many disastrous hesitations, had been compelled, in the course of 1884-1885, to dispatch two military expeditions into the Eastern Sudan and one up the Nile towards Khartum in vain attempts to relieve beleaguered Egyptian garrisons, and above all to save Gordon, who had undertaken the heroic but hopeless feat of effecting a peaceful evacuation. Nor did the Sudan after its evacuation cease to be a menace to Egypt and a drain upon its exchequer. For some time Upper Egypt was constantly threatened with invasion, and Dongola too had to be evacuated before the flowing tide of Dervish conquest was arrested, after the Mahdi's death in 1885, by a small Anglo-Egyptian force which held up at Ginnis the Khalifa who had succeeded him. The new frontier was withdrawn still further north to Wadi Haifa, which the Dervishes only once seriously threatened. The attack failed utterly, and the death of Wad Nejumi, killed at Toski, deprived the invaders of their ablest and bravest leader.
But Wadi Haifa remained altogether for over a decade the southern bulwark of civilisation against the devastating flood of African barbarism, and from the quarters in which, on one occasion, I spent a couple of days with Lord (then Sir Herbert) Kitchener during one of his tours of inspection as Sirdar of the Egyptian army, I could see the Dervish pickets on the not far distant hills, beyond which, for 2,000 miles, Mahdi-ism still held the whole Sudan in its murderous grip. I asked the future hero of Omdurman how long this abomination would have to be tolerated. " With luck," he replied, " not more than another seven or eight years." That was in 1890, and Omdurman was fought in 1898. The " luck " came when, in 1896, the British Government were moved by the urgent appeal of Italy, backed by the German Emperor, after the Italian disaster at Adua in Abyssinia, for an, Anglo-Egyptian diversion on the Nile which should danger of foreign complications.